I have a MacBook Pro with English (US) keyboard layout. I usually hold the right-alt (option) key, and press E to activate the accented vowel insertion (it shows a placeholder where the accented letter—á/Á, é/É, í/Í, ó/Ó, ú/Ú—would appear), and after pressing the corresponding vowel it will be inserted in place. Similar procedure using the N key to insert the ñ/Ñ characters.

I also have an Ubuntu Desktop computer with Latin American keyboard layout. Latin American Spanish keyboards have the acute accent character ´ right after the P key. In order to insert an accented vowel, you type first the acute accent, and then the vowel. Similarly to insert the ñ/Ñ characters, one would type the ~ character and then the n/N letter.

Everything fine until here.

The problem is when I have to run a Linux OS on a Virtual Machine (VirtualBox) on the Mac. I don't have the ´ character on the physical keyboard, and the right-alt (option) key doesn't have the same effect as in Mac OS.

The question here is, if there's a way to insert international (or at least accented vowels, which are the ones I mostly use) characters from the physical keyboard of the Mac, to the guest OS in the VirtualBox?

  • You may need to use the character map in Ubuntu.
    – Zrb0529
    Sep 28, 2012 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


You can simply change the keyboard layout in Ubuntu without any changes to OS X:

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Then you can type like you would do on your Latin American keyboard.


Mine defaulted to the Spain keyboard setting. The Spain keyboard has the ñ/Ñ characters right after the L-key and the acute accent character one space after that: [L] [Ñ] [´]. The ñ/Ñ characters need no extra work In order to insert an accented vowel you would press the acute accent, then the vowel and release.

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